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Appearance, Chicago Beer History Presentation + FREE Tasting Of The Beers That Once Thrilled Local Beer Drinkers (And Why)!

Posted by Bob Skilnik on March 10, 2009

I’m going to do a tasting theme of old beers that once were popular in
Chicago for various reasons. The formula for Miller Lite, for instance, was
actually purchased by Miller from the Meister Brau Brewing in Chicago when
it was actually marketed under the name of Meister Brau Lite.

Pabst has moved their headquarters to a Chicago suburb in order to be close
to their biggest market — Chicagoland and the Midwest.

Old Style is once again being promoted as “Chicago’s Beer” and now
“krauesend” as it was when it held more than 40% of the Chicago market, and
even Schlitz is back as a retro beer. Find out why.

These will be beers that once touched the lips and pocketbooks of Chicago
beer drinkers. There’s some good beer and marketing stories here. I did this
approach a few years ago at The Map Room on Hoyne Avenue and it was well
received. This will be, of course, on top of my general discussion of
Chicago’s brewing history. Figure 1.5 hours of beer, beer, beer!

Monday, March 16, at 2:30, Mather’s-More Than a Café at 3235
North Central Avenue in Chicago. Suggested donation is $8 and it all goes to the folks at Mather’s,
a meeting place for seniors. It’s either a nice, sedate social center like Mather’s or alternative
Midnight BasketBall Programs. The old-timers prefer a good night’s sleep — and so do I.

Mather’s—More Than a Café • 3235 N. Central Avenue, Chicago, IL 60634 • (773) 205.3300



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Ben Franklin, Bob Skilnik and Colonial Spirits

Posted by Bob Skilnik on October 29, 2008

Ben Franklin; What He DIDN'T Say About Beer!

Ben Franklin; What He DIDN'T Say about Beer!

Ben and Colonial Spirits
2-3:30pm, Sun., Nov. 2





Bob Skilnik, Chicago’s beer historian, discusses the beers and ales favored by Franklin and the Founding Fathers even during their informal political discussions.

                   Columbus, Ohio Brewery Issues First T-Shirt Recall in The Nation
Elevator Brewing Company Owner Will Replace Historically Inaccurate Ben Franklin T-Shirts


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Meet Me At Ohio Beer Week!

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 14, 2008

Met Bob In Athens, OH

Fest brings the best of Ohio’s

brew to Athens all this week

Ohio Beer Week, July 14-19, 2008I’ll be speaking at the Ohio Beer Week celebration from July 17-19. The actual festival begins on the 14th and ends on the 19th.                    

Ohio Brew Week celebrates Ohio’s diverse microbrews during the weeklong festival. You can enjoy more than 76 craft beers from 23 Ohio microbreweries, all in one easy-to-get around city, relaxing Athens, Ohio.

Bob Skilnik to Speak at Ohio Brew Week

Bob Skilnik is an alumnus of Chicago’s Siebel Institute of Technology, the oldest brewing school in the U.S.; author of nine food and drink-related books, including Beer & Food: An American History, and a contributor to trade journals, magazines, and newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune’s “Good Eating” section. He has appeared on ABC’s The View, FOX News and ESPN2.

While at Ohio Brew Week July 17, 18 and part of the 19th, Bob will talk about: “Why There Might Be A Beer In Your Refrigerator Today—How Beer Left The Saloon And Became A Household Guest,” “American Beer History—Urban Legends That Just Won’t Go Away.”

Pre-paid tickets & packages info…

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Drinkz-N-Eatz-TV Soft Opening

Posted by Bob Skilnik on April 21, 2008

I’ve decided to spin off a seperate HTML portal and blog of food and drink recipes using video and some podcasting too. As I get it up and running at full-speed, you’ll be able to enjoy a slew of video food recipes and listen to interviews with people in the drink and food trades.

You can go to UTube or other sites for this sort of thing, but if you do, you’ll also waste time wallowing through the junk out there to get to what you want. Drinkz-N-Eatz-TV makes it easier for the kitchen chef or the family bartender to watch and observe, and if so inclined, give any one of the posted recipes a shot at home.

In the next few months, I’ll be adding more of my own videos, along with the self-made smattering that’s now posted at There will be no editoralizing, just taped and recorded recipes that are fun to prepare and are spiked with enough beer, wine and booze to make these recipes fun and easy to prepare.

So I’m looking for your input. If you have a favorite recipe out on the Web, let me know where it is, and if I can use it for content, I’ll get it up on the site. If you’re a brewer, vintner, distiller, importer, distributor and on and on, and would like to add some low-cost Internet exposure to your products, drop me a line. All it takes is a sample of your product, some sales and promo material and whatever, and I’ll include your product in an upcoming food or drink video for shits and grins…that’s it. Of course, if you’d like to add a banner or text message, you can check out the “Sponsers” tab at Contact info is at the site and blog.

I’ll be heading to St. Louis on May 8 for the St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival and hope to come back with a boatload of interviews and other interesting content to liven up the site. The seven participating brewers in this exciting event will include some smaller local breweries/brewpubs and Anheuser-Busch, so there will be a smattering of beers and much more for everyone. Stop by HERE for more info and a link for purchasing tickets. Say “Hi!” to me if you get there. I’ll be the big, balding (more like bald) guy pestering everybody for a video interview or a quote or two.

This is a “Soft Opening” for Drinkz-N-Eatz-TV, giving me a chance to find the bugs and work them out, and to start driving traffic to the site from Beer (& More) In Food and other sites I have up an running. Eventually I’ll formalize all of this when I feel comfortable with the level of content I have and know the concept is working…press releases and such. In the meantime, stop by  Drinkz-N-Eatz-TV and check it out.

Posted in Appearances, Beer & Food In The News, Beer In Food, Cooking With Beer, Plugs | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Author Bob Skilnik At Park Ridge Library, Sunday, February 10th, 2 P.M.

Posted by Bob Skilnik on February 7, 2008


Stop by and say “Hello!” Sunday, February 10th at 2 P.M.

20 South Prospect Avenue
Park Ridge, IL 60068-4188


Chicago Tribune
“Bob Skilnik thinks most historians have overlooked what a thirsty job it was being hog butcher to the world.”

Illinois Heritage Magazine
“Skilnik’s book, quite skillfully, brings focus to the history of Chicago’s beer production, distribution, retail sale, and consumption patterns.”

From the Author
Why breweries? Why bother writing about this long forgotten local industry?

As a kid growing up in the predominately Irish neighborhood of Bridgeport during the 1950s and early ’60s, there were two distinctive smells I’ll always remember, the putrid fumes of the nearby Chicago Stockyards and the balancing sweet malt aroma from our two neighborhood breweries. Living just blocks away from both industries, the aroma of the breweries was, understandably, more appealing.

In my youth, little did I know that one neighborhood brewery had once belonged to gangster Johnny Torrio, later passed on to the control of Al Capone and, eventually, Frank Nitti. During National Prohibition, the later renamed Canadian Ace Brewery was known as the Manhattan Brewing Company, supplying much of the thirsty South Side with illegal brew.

But now they’re gone. A few years ago, I tried to find some information about the old Chicago brewing industry, but most books of local history were useless. It was almost as though the industry had never existed. That is why this book was written.

About the Author
Bob Skilnik is an alumnus of Chicago’s Siebel Institute of Technology – the oldest school of brewing technology in the U.S. – where he earned a degree in brewing technology. He is the former associate editor for the American Breweriana Journal, a contributor to the Chicago Tribune’s Good Eating food section, trade journals, magazines and newspapers.

He has appeared on ABC’s “The View,” the Fox News Channel, ESPN2, and Chicago’s WTTW. BEER: A History of Brewing in Chicago is his fifth book.
A fascinating look at the rise and fall of Chicago’s brewing industry, by Midwest Book Review

Brewing technology expert and former associate editor for the “American Breweriana Journal” Bob Skilnik presents Beer: A History of Brewing in Chicago, a fascinating look at the rise and fall of Chicago’s brewing industry across the decades.

From the illegal alcohol trafficking during the Prohibition era, to famous beer riots, the interplay of beer and politics, lists of every Chicago brewery since 1833 with addresses and dates of operation, a guided tour of the local breweries that remain, and much more, Beer: A History of Brewing in Chicago covers everything a Chicago beer lover could hope for with extra surprises in store.

Written in a down-to-earth, friendly narrative tone, Beer: A History of Brewing in Chicago blends spot-on accurate research with an inviting prose style.

Recommended both for casual readers curious about the history of beer in Chicago and scholars in need of research information on the topic.

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Hear Me In Cleveland, Tuesday, December 4 On WTAM 1100 AM News Radio

Posted by Bob Skilnik on November 28, 2007

wtamlogo.jpgI’ll be on the Bill Wills morning radio program on Cleveland’s News Radio WTAM 1100 AM this coming Tuesday, December 4 talking about my favorite subject, BEER and my latest book, Beer & Food: An American History. WTAM is the home of the Cleveland Indians and the Cavs.

As a news/talk format, it also carries the syndicated talk show hosted by Rush Limbaugh.

It’s also Cleveland’s most powerful AM station and during the day, its signal can be heard throughout most of Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Indiana.

Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about! Stop by and have a listen. I’m not sure what time since we’re taping Monday.

Posted in Appearances | 3 Comments »

Saving A Historic Chicago Brewery Meeting Gets Pushed Back To November 1

Posted by Bob Skilnik on October 26, 2007


beer-history-cover.jpgWell, now our meeting with Alderman Manny Flores has been pushed back until November 1, the date that puts me out of town.

There might be follow-up testimony at a later date, and who knows; maybe the only guy to chronicle the history of Chicago’s brewing industry might be invited.   

In the meantime, I once again ask anyone out there who has some interesting historical or architectural info, pictures, plats of survey, etc. of the former brewery, to please contact me ASAP with whatever you have that might help save the Brand Brewery and possibly the Michael Brand Brewery (aka, the United States Brewing Company) across the street on Elston Avenue.    

With the lack of participation I’ve gotten thus far requesting readers to please send in beer/food recipes or short videos that I could post, which is slowly proving to me that I’m spinning my wheels posting to this blog, I’m betting that I’ll hear nothing from readers that might add to the efforts to save this piece of Chicago history.  

Might be time to shut down this site and move on to a more constructive venture.               MORE BREWERY INFO HERE                              



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Saving A Historic Chicago Brewery (or Two)!

Posted by Bob Skilnik on October 21, 2007


mbrandbrewery_usbrewingcobranch1.jpgI just received word that I’ll be participating in a meeting with Alderman Manny Flores this Wednesday at City Hall. And for once, I’ll actually be happy to shake hands with a Chicago politico. Last year I was contacted by the Logan Square Preservation organization for whatever historical input I could offer about the Brand Bros. Brewery and their father’s brewery across the street the Michael Brand Brewery, later known as the United States Brewing Company. Years of “progress” have chipped away at these structures, but Ward Miller, who heads up this organization, wants to try to stop it.

God bless ’em! I’ve been doing tours of Chicago’s dwindling number of still-standing breweries but the wrecking ball keeps on showing up, and as someone once noted, my tour may eventually consist of showing empty lots and saying something like “At one time, the XYZ brewery stood here.” But now there’s some hope.

I also steered Ward to Susan Appel, who as some of you might know, is an expert on preProh brewing structures and someone I knew who had to be contacted for her expertise in offering whatever valuable architectural and historical background she could. But we could also use your help here. If you have any pictures of either brewery, interior or exterior, or any historical or architectural info that could help us plead out cause, PLEASE contact me immediately at or by phone at 1.815.557.4608 ASAP. Anything you can think of that might help us make a better argument as to why these structures should stay, are needed for our meeting. I know this is short notice, but we have to operate on the alderman’s schedule, not ours, especially when the man might be able to help us save a little bit of Chicago brewing history.

As Ward notes in this passage to Alderman Flores;

Thank you both, for the opportunity to consider the orange-rated (Virgil) Brand Brewing Administration Building, for Chicago Landmark Designation.  This is a tremendous opportunity, to not only include this special building, but some of the other remaining structures affiliated with the (Virgil Brand/Brand Bros) Brand Brewing Company and the Michael Brand Brewing Company/United States Brewing Company buildings, located directly across the street and to the immediate South on the 2400 and 2500 blocks of Elston Avenue.

Several of these structures may have been modified (or even re-faced with superficial new brick) on the Elston Avenue elevation of the buildings, but they do remain intact on the side and Riverfront elevations/facades.  Perhaps even including a bifurcated “brewery designation” on several of these types of plants throughout the City may also be of interest and could even include the various company-run taverns (e.g.-The Schlitz Taverns), many which are also orange-rated in such a designation. 

Providing such protection, would indeed “cement the storied history” of the brewing industry in Chicago, while providing protection and incentives for creative redevelopment schemes, which would “in-turn”, preserve important historical and architectural features of these once prominent structures.  Used as a planning tool, Chicago Landmark Designation would ensure the right type of preservation and reuse, looking to the future of our community and City.

I’ve included noted author and historian, Bob Skilnik and Susan K. Appel, PhD, Professor of Art & Architectural History at Illinois State University in this email, since they will be joining us at our upcoming meeting on October 25, 2007 @ 3:00pm at your City Hall office…

With the demolition of a historic 1900s-era building this week, several blocks to the south of this site and complex on Elston Avenue, I would encourage that with the incredible volume of information and photos supplied in the past week, by Dr. Appel and Mr. Skilnik (attached to my 25-page packet and hand-delivered letter), that DPD-Landmarks move as quickly as possible towards issuing a report and “Preliminary Determination” re these strucutres.

Sincerely and With Best Regards,

Ward Miller, Vice President

Logan Square Preservation    

UPDATE HERE!!                                                                                        

Posted in Appearances, Beer History | 1 Comment »

WTTW Channel 11 After Action Report

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 27, 2007


Imagine you’re in a nice-sized conference room that overlooks the “Chicago Tonight” studio at 5400 North St. Louis in Chicago. I mean you can actually watch the entire 3-ring circus that goes into making a one-hour television program which is a mix of live interviews, punctuated with off-site video segments. And if you’re too lazy to get up and really observe the live production, you can sit at a nice-sized conference table and instead, watch a big (60″ I’m guessing) HDTV of the program—this way, seamlessly—as live melds with tape.

But the early highlight of the night was sitting at the conference table and discussing Harry Potter with Cook County Board President Todd Stroger (and some of his coat-holders) and Cook County States Attorney Dick Devine. We’re talking “Twilight Zone,” out-of-body-experience, late-60s-flashback sort of moments here.

After Devine and Stroger left and eventually went verbally dueling on camera, with Elizabeth Bracken as moderator, I had a wonderful conversation with a young guy whose name I’ve already forgotten—part of Stroger’s group—about beer & booze. Since I’m the (take your pick) “beer guy,” “beer man,” “beer historian,” “beer blah, blah, blah,” the nomenclature even makes politicians want to talk about their times with a bottle in their hand. I felt like a parish priest and the confessional booth door was open…

After Stroger and Devine finished their public dust-up (don’t ask; it’s Chicago, it’s Cook County, it’s politics) on camera, I eventually got tapped to stand outside the studio and received last minute instructions from the executive(?) producer. “No long-winded answers. Keep it short and sweet. Sit, shake hands with Phil (Ponce), always look at him; do not look at the monitor. When the interview is over, stay seated until I say “CUT!,” thank Phil and then get up and leave.”

So wth a 4-minute lull as some video rolled for another segment, I sat with Phil while he gathered his notes, we made some chit-chat (He said he enjoyed “Beer: A History of Beer & Brewing” (“I can tell you enjoyed writing the book.”), and his last words were, “Let’s just have fun with this!” And we were live…

I think it was a 7-minute segment, and of course, I had no control over the questions. A segment producer and I did talk in general terms about subject matter and I gave them everything I graciously received from Jonathan Cutler from Piece, Pete Crowley from Rock Bottom, Tim Lane from Goose Island/Clybourn, Matt van Wyk (rhymes with bike) from Flossmoor Station and Nick Floyd from Three Floyds in Munster, IN. Add some tidbits about Two Brothers in Warrenville, IL, wait for Phil Ponce to sort it all out and ask me some questions, and I probably got to use 2% of the info everyone sent me.

That’s ShowBiz.

Anyway, as far as the producers are concerned, it all worked out so well that they want me to come back in the fall and do a “Fall Beer Review.”

I’m ready. So if you’re from a local brewery and want to get a mention (no promises, as you’ve already seen), think of me. Send me your info and fall line-up of beer samples as soon as they become available and I’ll try to do something promotional with the time I have—when I get “the call.” 

One dose of this media adventure and another dose switching off as part of four rotating columnists in the print and online versions of FoodFare in The Times of Northwest Indiana, and things are finally looking good for a regularly-scheduled outlet for local beer news. Other glitterati as columnists for The Times food section will include Michael Foley, formerly of the Printer’s Row restaurants, Gale Gand, executive pastry chef extraordinaire and Food Network contributor, and Alpana Singh of Chicago’s WTTW, Channel 11 “Check Please!” Good company, but no idea how I got mixed in with this all-star crew.                                                                                                                                                                       

“Mr. DeMille; I’m ready for my close up.”



Posted in Appearances, Beer & Food In The News | 1 Comment »

See Me Tonight On Channel 11, WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight” Program

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 25, 2007

beer-snob-hdr.jpgbonvivant.jpgJust received another call confirming I’ll be on Channel 11, at 7 P.M., talking about Chicago’s ONLY brewery, our meager assortment of brewpubs, and hopefully, a few of the suburb locations.

More to follow…



“Once I got passed the ‘barnyardy’ nose,
the tang of the slight drippings from the undertone
of the sweat from the farmer who made it, the putrid
smell of a 3 week old Belgian Shepard Dog who pissed
first and then died on the brew’s stale 3-year old hops,
and the cost-cutting attempt by the brewer to skimp by
using an obviously old yeast cake from his aging
wooden fermenter, I immediately placed an order
with for a crate of these
wonderful 22-ounce bombers!”

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Chicago’s Yeast Side After Action Report

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 25, 2007


Well, all I can say is that if you missed this 2.5 tour on the Chicago River and Lake Michigan…you missed a GREAT time! The weather could not have been more cooperative, the Berghoff beer never stopped flowing, they couldn’t shut me up, and the questions from the audience were abundant.

Thanks to Liz and Brianne from the Chicago History Museum, Sally from Glunz Distributors who handled the beer end of the cruise, and  Chicago Line Cruises for a memorable evening. If you missed this one, contact the CHM and ask about an upcoming possible second tour. I was told that we had well over 100 on board so that was very gratifying.



 Our ship, the Ft. Dearborn



Left picture: L to R…Brianne (CHM), Sally (Berghoff/Glunz), Liz (CHM), Me. 


Right picture: Sally fielding a question from the audience. 


Posted in Appearances, Brewery Tours | Leave a Comment »

Exploring Chicago’s Yeast Side — Beer Tasting/Beer History Boat Tour

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 20, 2007

berghofffamousbock.jpgFor those of you who have been adding your names to my growing list of “People-Who-Want-To-Do-A-Chicago-Beer-History-Tour,” this might be just the thing to hold you over while we strive for a count of 35 or so participants for our customary 4.5 hour bus tour.                                                                                                                                                                                           

Working in conjunction with the Chicago History Museum, aka, the Chicago Historical Society, Chicago Line Cruises, and The Berghoff, Chicago Beer Tours (that’s me) will be conducting a 2.5 hour cruise on Lake Michigan while I talk about Chicago’s beer history—including The Berghoff—complete with a tasting of Berghoff beer.berghoffcoaster.jpg

This event is being run by the Chicago History Museum. If you have any questions, please contact them. I have nothing to do with ticket purchases. I do know this though…tickets are going fast. There’s talk of doing this tour once again in September.

Exploring Chicago’s Yeast Side: A History of Beer                               

Sunday, July 22; 6:30 – 9:00 p.m.

Before Milwaukee claimed the title of beer capital of the Midwest, there was Chicago. Discover the city’s golden age of brewing on this sunset tour complete with beer tastings provided by a Chicago staple, the Berghoff Brewery.

Tours meet at the Chicago Line Cruises dock at North Pier, 465 N. McClurg Court.

$45; $40 members.


Posted in Appearances, Beer History, Beer Tasting, Plugs | Leave a Comment »

The Ultimate Tailgater And Bob Skilnik Talk Beer & Food

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 12, 2007

thmb_chef_a_ep23_bookcover.jpgthmb_chef_a_ep23_headshot.jpgA few weeks ago, I did a podcast with Stephen Linn-The Ultimate Tailgater. I don’t know what’s going on, but lately I’ve been hooking up with some celebrity cooks and chefs. I’m honored that I’m sharing space with Stephen Raichlen, BBQ cookbook author and TV host of BBQ University (sign-up for his newsletter at his site), Kevin Roberts, radio’s “Food Dude” and author of Munchies, and Rocky Fino who penned Will Cook for Sex. (Maybe I should go back to playing the Illinois Lotto again, too!)

Speaking of celebrities, I’ll be making a formal announcement soon about my columnist gig with the Times newspaper. I’ll be a member of a team of some big name food heavyweights, which still has me scratching my head as to how this all happened. Stay tuned for more details!

But back to The Ultimate Tailgater podcast…Stephen Linn talks about one of the most popular ingredients to most any tailgate party – the beer – with Bob Skilnik, author of Beer & Food. Bob talks about the history of beer in and with food, including some great recipes and cooking tips. Click on Episode #23 in the “Browse Audio-by Episode” drop down box or “Browse Audio-by Guest Name”.

You’ll also find a link to some beer/food recipes I contributed for The Ultimate Tailgater website.

Posted in Appearances, Plugs, Podcasts | Leave a Comment »

New Illinois/Michiana Beer Writer

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 8, 2007

The Times of Northwest Indiana has offered me the position of beer writer for their paper.

As some of you know, I’ve been freelancing beer-themed articles for the Chicago Tribune since 1997, but they consider their readers more wanting of a regularly scheduled wine critic. They won’t budge on hiring a beer columnist.

All I can say is “Thank the gods for the Times and their willingness to acknowledge the importance and nurturing of readers who want to read about beer!”

I’m hoping that local readers will be willing and able to feed me info about beer and brewing activities in the paper’s area of coverage. From going over their print and online statistics, the paper’s actually GROWING (unlike so many MSM papers), so I’d like to make my column as relevant and informative as possible for their expanding readership. It looks like their coverage is the northeast portion of Illinois and northwest Indiana, down to Newton and Jasper counties, and over to the edges of Michigan City or so. It’s the 2nd largest newspaper in Indiana, with a daily circulation of 82,709 and a Sunday one of 89,942.

If you’re from the area and know of any brewpubs, breweries, homebrew clubs, beer bars with good selections, and even progressive beer distributors and liquor stores that I can use for local info, I’d appreciate the help. This is a chance for Illinois/Michiana beer lovers to finally have a local media outlet, with a paper willing to back the effort. I’m excited about this opportunity.


Bob Skilnik

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Joliet Herald: Beer hops into history of U.S. cooking

Posted by Bob Skilnik on June 8, 2007

This summer, when you’re screaming for ice cream, try mixing up a batch of fresh berry sherbet — only make sure you have plenty of Samuel Adams white ale on hand since the sherbet recipe will flop without it.

Or, for a more adventurous barbecue treat, whip up a batch of Sauerkraut and Malt Extract Crunch bars. Local beer expert Bob Skilnik of Plainfield posted an instructional video of that delicacy at

“They’re actually very, very good,” Skilnik said. “People flip out when they’re told what’s in it.”

In his sixth beer-related book, “Beer & Food: An American History,” Skilnik documents the history of the brewing industry in the United States and illustrates though 90 recipes how Americans use beer as a key ingredient in cooking.

Skilnik will sign copies of his book from 6 to 8 p.m. on June 8 at Barnes & Noble, 2621 Plainfield Road, Joliet. For more information about the event, call the store at (815) 254-2253.


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Meet Me At The 3rd Annual Drinking & Writing Festival, June 9 At Hopleaf

Posted by Bob Skilnik on June 7, 2007


June 9, 2007

12 p.m. – 5 p.m.

5148 N. Clark Street (@Foster)

Chicago, Illinois




We’re working hard to prepare for The 3rd Annual Drinking & Writing Festival.  This year the focus is on the man who inspired the creation of Drinking & Writing Brewery, Charles Bukowski.  We’ll have some special guests to talk about Buk and beer.  So far the lineup includes:

  • Northwestern University’s Bill Savage

  • Author Bob Skilnik (Beer & Food: An American History, Beer: A History of Brewing in Chicago)

  • Journalist Bill Jauss will present fellow journalist Rick Kogan (Chicago Tribune, WGN, and author of A Chicago Tavern: A Goat, a Curse, and the American Dream), last year’s winner of The Drinking & Writing Award for Outstanding Achievement in Drinking & Writing.  Rick won’t be there in person, but he’ll be there…

  • Beer from some great microbreweries and brewpubs including Dogfish Head, Flossmoor Station, Firestone Walker, Rock Bottom, and Goose Island, and lots of opportunities to sample the incredible beers at the Hopleaf.

  • The ever popular Two Drink Minimum Writing Contest.  For this contest, everyone who has been using their drink tickets is given paper, pen, theme, and two minutes to write a story related to that theme.  All legible and illegible entries will be judged immediately and the winner will receive a fabulous prize (last year’s winner won a tour and tasting for 10 at Goose Island Beer Company and the year before the winner received his weight in beer from Goose Island!).

  • Local homebrewers with tasty samples of their beer, including the winner of the Beerfly Alleyfight’s Best Beer and Best Pairing, Brian Schafer.

  • Twilight Tales (a small book publisher and reading series) will be there to show off some of their books.

  • The Book Cellar  will be on hand with some books on Bukowski, drinking, writing, and drinking and writing.Admission is $15.00 for tickets purchased in advance ( or $20.00 at the door.  Ticket price includes all events for the day and 10 drink sample tickets good for all the Hopleaf beers and the guest beers. Remember, it’s Bukowski and tickets may go faster than expected.

    Admisssion is $15.00 when you buy your ticket online (look up and to your left) or $20.00 at the door.  Ticket price includes all events and 10 drink sample tickets good for all the Hopleaf beers and the guest beers.

    You can also purchase tickets online for $20.00 and it includes a Bukowski poster (look above).

    Remember, it’s Bukowski and tickets may go faster than expected.

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Book Signing In Joliet, June 8, 6 P.M.

Posted by Bob Skilnik on June 7, 2007

Join Chicagoland beer writer Bob Skilnik for readings from his latest book, Beer & Food: An American History.

June 8, 2007
6-8 P.M.

Barnes & Noble
2621 Plainfield Road
Joliet, IL 60435

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The Berghoff Is Dead. Long Live The Berghoff!

Posted by Bob Skilnik on June 5, 2007

berghoffcoaster.jpgberghoff-map.jpgI received a telephone call a few weeks ago from Dan Protess of Channel 11, WTTW. Dan’s a producer at the Chicagoland PBS station who works with Geoffrey Baer who’s featured in some great productions that deal with Chicago’s history, broken down into various areas of Chicagoland. We set up a meeting at the Berghoff on Adams in downtown Chicago to film a bit about Germans in Chicago, including the much-fabled Lager Beer Riot of 1855.

OK; before I go any further, I can already hear you saying, “The Berghoff? Didn’t it close awhile back?” If you follow the link to the restaurant and make a cursory look at the home page, you’ll probably see phrases like “…the final month of our operation” and “We thank you for the memories” from former owners Herman, Jan, Peter and Tim Berghoff, and never see the link above the farewell tribute to the newly-named 17 West Chicago.

Well, the bar and restaurant did close for a while, but the bar and some of the adjoining rooms are again wide open and waiting for your return. Apparently the word never got out, or more likely, people have turned a deaf ear to its reopening. As Carlyn Berghoff explained to me, “I’ve done five TV appearances talking about the fact that we’re open, but there was so much reporting of the Berghoff’s closing that no one’s really listening.” Reporting about a 107-year old restaurant makes better copy than running another story about its reopening, I guess.

So here’s the story in a nutshell. The operation is now headed by daughter Carlyn Berghoff, whose specialty is catering events. And while she continues this phase of the Berghoff business, most of the 17 Adams location is still running. In the short time they were closed, the west wall of the bar area was removed to open up the room next door and the floor was replaced with a new one.

So what’s open now? From the website;

The Berghoff Café.  Serving Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., The Berghoff Café is conveniently located in the heart of the Loop at 17/west Adams Street in the lower level of the historic Berghoff building.

Whether you’re in the mood for a hand-carved sandwich, a fresh salad, a Panini, one of our daily specials or other favorites from the Berghoff Café, we know there is something to please everyone at the Café.”

The bar area, now known as “17 West” is also open. From the website;

“We’ve taken the best of the former Berghoff bar and enhanced the environment, décor and created an expanded menu that includes many contemporary dishes that are sure to become future favorites.” And I might add, the corned beef and bratwurst and kraut sandwiches are still served at the bar.

I knew the bar was open, but when I told friends and family I was heading to the Berghoff for an interview, all I heard was, “The Berghoff? Didn’t it close awhile back?” Even one of the TV crew said he had no idea the place was open. The only rooms that are now closed, The Century Room, for instance, are being used for catered events, but I was told by one of the staff that they would reopen all the rooms for the Christmas season.

What’s on the menu?

At the Berghoff Cafe;

Berghoff Classics

Weiner Schnitzel 12.95
Choice of potato, creamed spinach and a pickle

Sauerbraten 11.50
With thinly sliced beef, sweet and sour gravy and mashed potatoes

plus sandwiches, salads, side dishes and desserts.

At 17 West;



Alsatian Onion and Apple Soup 
Sweet Onion and Tart Apples in a rich broth topped with welted Muenster Cheese Crouton

Shrimp & Scallop Strudel 
Flaky Strudel dough rolled w/ sauteed shrimp & scallops, granished w/ petite greens & roasted garlic infused tomato coulis

Soup of the Day
Selection varies on daily basis. Please ask your server for details

Mini Brats & Knockwurst
Two mini sausages with Sauerkraut served on two Soft Buns w/Dusseldorf Mustard & German Potato Salad

Portabella Mushroom
Mushroom cap stuffed w/ wilted spinach, sun-dried tomatoes & kalamata olives, topped w/ herbed bread crumbs & drizzled w/ basil oil

Potato Pierogies
Sauteed dumplings filled w/mashed potatoes & served w/ chive sour cream & sweet potato salad


Alsatian Onion and Apple Soup
Sweet Onion and Trat Apples in a rich broth topped with melted Muenster Cheese Crouton

Mini Brat & Knockwurst
Two Mini Sausages with Sauerkraut served on Soft Buns w/Dusseldorf Mustard & German Potato Salad

Portabella Mushroom
Mushroom cap stuffed w/ wilted spinach, sun-dried tomatoes & kalamata olives, topped w/ herbed bread crumbs & drizzle w/ basil oil 

Shrimp & Scallop Strudel
Flaky strudel dough rolled w/ sauteed shrimp & scallops, garnished w/ petite greens & roasted garlic infused tomato coulis

Soup of the Day
Selection varies on daily basis. Please ask your server for details

Smoked Salmon 
Thinly sliced smoked salmon & herbed cream cheese, stacked between layers of crepes, garnished w/ salmon caviar & mixed greens

Potato Pierogies 
Sauteed dumplings filled w/ mashed potatos & served w/ chive sour cream & sweet potato salad

Chorizo Stuffed Dates
Plump dates filled w/ chorizo sausage, wrapped w/ bacon & served w/ spicy red pepper sauce & petite salad greens 

Bar Special Appetizers ~

Pretzel Nuggets

Onion Rings

Calamari w/ sweet chili sauce

Potato Perogi

Portobello Mushroom

Brat and Knockwurst

17 West Chili and Chips

Smoked Salmon Crepes



Wiener Schnitzel (Tradition with a Twist!)
Traditional breaded German Veal Cutlet w/ petite asparagus & Pepper Salad, served w/ Berghoff Chips

Lake Superior Whitefish w/ a fill-caper butter sauce on roasted vegetable napoleon & whipped potatoes

Sausage Trio
Sausage plate featuring grilled Bratwurst, steamed Knockwurst & smoked Thuringer w/marinated artichoke & red potatoes

Sauerbraten (Tradition with a Twist!)
Marinated Roast Sirloin of Beef in a delicious homemade Sweet & Sour Gravy, melange of vegetables and whipped potatoes 

Alantic Salmon
Pan roasted filet of salmon, accompanied w/ a heart of palm, asparagus & watercress salad, sauteed shrimp & organe/vanilla emulsion 

Penne Pasta
Roasted garlic, portabella mushroom & plum tomatoes tossed w/ whole penne & pesto beurre blanc

Alaskan Halibut
Pan seared filet of halibut w/ roasted tomatoes & zucchini, wilted spinach, pine nut relish & crispy pancetta strips

Grilled Hanger Steak 
Sliced Hanger Steak, grilled stack of polenta, portabella mushroom, eggplant, crispy fried leeks and madeira sauce

Barbeque Breast of Chicken
Oven roasted semi bonless breast of chicaken, on a bed of sauteed Savory cabbage, vegetable cousous & Berghoff darl beer barbeque sauce

Quiche of the Day

Deep Dish Quiche and Petit salad of mixed greens and vegetables tossed with Sherry vinaigrette

Veal Ravioli

Egg pasta filled w/fresh herbs & ground veal, sauteed w/ red pearl onions, roasted garlic brown butter & spring peas & prosciutto


Wiener Schnitzel (Tradition with a Twist!)
Traditional breaded German veal cutlet w/petite asparagus & pepper salad, served w/ Berghoff Chips

Veal Ravioli
Egg pasta filled w/fresh herbs & ground veal, sauteed w/ red pearl onions, roasted garlic brown butter, spring peas & prosciutto

Sausage Trio (Tradition with a Twist!)
Sausage plate featuring grilled Bratwurst,steamed Knockwurst & sauteed smoked Thuringer w/marinated artichoke & red potatoes

Sauerbraten (Tradition with a Twist!)
Marinated Roast Sirloin of Beef in a delicious homemade Sweet & Sour Gravy, melange of vegetables & whipped potatoes

Alasken Halibut
Pan seared filet of halibut w/ roasted tomatoes & zucchini, wilted spinach, pine nut relish & crispy pancetta strips

Ahi Tuna & Maine Lobster
Pepper Crusted tuna medallion paired w/ sauteed lobster medallios, accompanied w/ a tender ragout of white beans & lobster cream sauce

Grilled Hanger Steak
Sliced Hanger Steak, grilled stack of Polenta, portabello mushroom, eggplant, cripsy fried leeks and maadeira sauce 

Penne Pasta
Roasted garlic, portabella mushrooms & plum tomatoes tossed w/ whole wheat penne & pesto beurre blanc

Lake Superior Whitefish w/ a dill-caper butter sauce on roasted vegetable napoleon & pommes frites

Atantic Salmon
Pan roasted filet of salmon, accompanied w/ a heart of palm, asparagus & watercress salad, sauteed shrimp & orange/vanilla emulsion


Mashed Potatoes, Sauerkraut, Berghoff Potato Salad, Creamed Spinach, Red Cabbage, Spaetzles, Cole Slaw, Fresh Vegetable of the Day or Berghoff Potato Chips

17/West Hours: 

Lunch Hours:

                      11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.        10:45 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.       11:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.             

                         Monday – Thursday                    Friday                      Saturday

Dinner Hours:

                       4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.                  4:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.              

                         Monday – Friday                         Friday  –  Saturday

Closed Sunday

So let’s say this all together, “The Berghoff/17 West/The Berghoff Cafe is OPEN! Now stop by for a schnitzel and some creamed spinach and a Berghoff dark beer.

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Listen To Podcast Interview And Get 40% Off Beer: A History of Brewing In Chicago

Posted by Bob Skilnik on May 27, 2007

26:51 minutes (9.23 MB)

This Interview is with Bob Skilnik, author of Beer: A History of Brewing in Chicago. First let me say that this book is not only for Chicagoans; if you are interested in beer history this is a great book as well.

CBR Listeners can purchase the book at a 40% discount from the publisher Barricade Books by calling 201.944.7600.

Click on the link below, listen to the interview and call the publisher’s telephone number as indicated.

powered by ODEO

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Beer in Chicago – an intoxicating history

Posted by Bob Skilnik on May 26, 2007

Here’s an article from the Pioneer Press news group, part of the Sun-Times, about a presentation I recently did in Elmhurst, IL.

I nominate the picture of me as first prize for the “Most Unflattering Picture A Newspaper Could Run” award.

Posted in Appearances, Beer & Food In The News, Beer History | Leave a Comment »

Meet Me In Des Plaines Tonight

Posted by Bob Skilnik on May 23, 2007

atlasadbeerback.jpgA free slide show, “Beer: A History of Brewing in Chicago,” will be presented by author and beer expert Bob Skilnik at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the library, 1501 Ellinwood St. Registration is required. Call 847-376-2787 or visit and click on Events.

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The 1st Annual BEERFLY ALLEYFIGHT!!! $2 BEERS!! See You There.

Posted by Bob Skilnik on May 19, 2007

beerfly.jpgWhat is a Beerfly Alleyfight?

Good question. 

May 14-20 is American Craft Beer Week and to celebrate we are starting the Beerfly Alleyfight.  The Beerfly Alleyfight is a new event that will not just pair, but tri-pair, beer, food, and art.  Ten Home Brewers will be given basic ingredients to brew a beer for the May 19th event.  They will pair it with a food they make (or they have someone make) and then they will be paired with a Chicago artist (could be a writer, a painter, musician, a dancer…) who will interpret the pairing in an ass-kickin’, alleyfight way like you’ve never seen. 

 Artists include Neo-Futurists Diana Slickman, Jay Torrence, and Mary Fons, dancer Mindy Myers, photographer Tracy Hurst, Mucca Pazza drummer Brent Roman, and more to come (I’ll be there too).

When is this Beerfly Alleyfight

…and where?

Saturday, May 19th from 1PM to 5PM at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery, 1 E. Grand Ave., Chicago.

Tickets are $10.00 and include food, home brew, and performances.  Pints of Rock Bottom beer will be available for a mere$2 each.

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Beer: A History of Brewing in Chicago (Today)

Posted by Bob Skilnik on May 17, 2007

A History of Brewing in ChicagoElmhurst Historical Museum – Tea Time Tour – Beer: A History of Brewing in Chicago. Author Bob Skilnik presents an intoxicating look at Chicago’s brewing history. Book signing to follow. Info: (630)833-1457

Thursday, May 17, 2007 at 1 p.m.

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Choo-chooing Down To Chattanooga

Posted by Bob Skilnik on April 10, 2007


April 13, Friday (Uh-oh!)
Bob Skilnik reading and signing, 7 p.m., . Author of Beer and Food. 401 Broad St. Chattanooga. Free and open to the public. (423) 756-2855.

Beer lovers will agree that good beer goes with good food, whether it’s simply a small plate of artisan cheeses or regional specialties such as New England Cheddar Cheese, a grilled Wisconsin bratwurst or a steaming bowl of Louisiana Jambalaya. But these foods, like others that we almost instinctively pair today with contemporary beers, have their origins in our culinary past, when “making do” also helped to inspire the creation of some classic American dishes. Please join us on Friday, April 13th at 7PM for Bob Skilnik’s reading and signing of Beer & Food.Beer & Food lays out the historical origins of how and why we Americans pair certain foods with a variety of beers, starting with the earliest recorded example of colonial housewives taking their last bit of homebrew and transforming an ordinary beef stew into a dish that surely had the household coming back to the hearth for more!After penning an article for the Chicago Tribune’s Good Eating section in 2003 titled “The Lightening of American Beer,” author and beer history expert Bob Skilnik wondered if—having chronicled the differences between today’s beers and those of the generations before us—could he shed some light on beer’s historical use in America. This is Skilnik’s sixth book, featuring over 90 beer-related recipes and a fascinating, mouth-watering account of the birth and rise of our nation’s brewing industry and its lasting influence on American cuisine.

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Meet Me Today At The John Crerar Library At The University Of Chicago

Posted by Bob Skilnik on March 30, 2007

Just a reminder…I’ll be yapping about the history of beer and brewing in Chicago while trying to promote my latest books, Beer: A History of Brewing in Chicago and Beer & Food: An American History at the John Crerar Library at the U. of C. at 4 P.M.

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